Deer rifle dilemma for youth hunter


May 6, 2009, 05:55 PM
Hey all, first time poster but long time reader! Lots of great info here. This season will be my boys first year to hunt and I am having a hard time deciding on a rifle. He has went out with me before and last year i let him carry a 6mm Rem which i used before i got my 25-06, great rifle! The problem I am having or more so he is having is the recoil. He hasn't had a lot of time shooting the rifle but has shot endless rounds from a 22 and a 22mag. He seems to be a bit trigger shy and it was rather noticable when i offered up the shot at the deer we where hunting. I know trigger time will help but was wondering about a small caliber. I have seen .223 and 22-250 that offer a larger grain bullet, 80-90 and was wondering what the feedback on this type of delimma is. I don't want to run him off by forcing him to shoot a rifle he is not comfortable with. I look forward to your input as to whether a .223 or 22-250 shooting a larger grain bullet would work for a year or 2 of hunting. Shot range would be 200 yards or less. Bonus is that I end up with a hunting partner and another rifle when he goes up to the 6mm!

Thanks and sorry for the long read...

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May 6, 2009, 06:03 PM
.243 maybe??

May 6, 2009, 06:22 PM
Welcome to THR PendletonCowboy.

Do you reload or shoot factory ammo? If you reload, Hodgdon's website has reduced loads for those less tolerant of recoil.


May 6, 2009, 06:22 PM
A 6mm Rem is almost identical to a .243 Win. A .223 with a heavy bullet may work but it better be a good shot!

May 6, 2009, 06:39 PM
If you keep your shots under 300yds the 243 Winchester is a very fine Mule deer & Antelope round. I use Federal loaded 100 grain Nosler Partitions. Light recoil makes this round an especially good round to start younger hunters with.
In the .223 Remington, Federal loads 55 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw specifically for Deer/Antelope. I have a case of these but have yet to use these on anything other than paper targets(1 1/2" @ 100yds) and has minimal recoil.
Good Luck,

May 6, 2009, 06:57 PM
Ok. Let me put it another way. A .243 Winchester is going to have almost identical recoil to the 6MM Remington if the bullet weight and rifle weight are the same.

May 6, 2009, 07:11 PM
What about a lever-action in .357 mag?

May 6, 2009, 07:29 PM
i'd steer away from the 22 centerfires...

handloading ability makes a tremendous difference. my 9 year old daughter runs a 300 wsm, and handles it like a champ... 'course, 130 grain bullets at 24-2500 f/s don't have much recoil.

how old is the kid?

what recoil options have you tried? look into a kick-eeze or limbsaver pad...

does the stock offer a proper fit, or is it an adult stock?

have you considered a 30-30? i'd choose it long before i considered a 22 for big game...

lots o' questions, but as someone w/ 2 young daughters coming up thru the shooting ranks, i've done this dance before...

May 6, 2009, 07:29 PM
What about a lever-action in .357 mag?

MikePGS, that's a nice rifle but it's really just a 100yd rifle, and doesn't fit his criteria.

A 223 or 22-250 would be acceptable if you select a rifle with a faster barrel twist to handle the heavier hunting bullets.
The lighter varmint bullets will not do the job reliably, unless neck or head shots are taken.


May 6, 2009, 07:32 PM
I would suggest something like a 357 lever with 38 +p ammunition or something in a .243.. Shooting a deer and having to put it down because the first shot wasnt precise enough with a .223 or 22-250 could be just as much of a put off as the wrong gun.... there are many more suitable first hunting rifles than the .223 or 22-259.. that said, there is nothing wrong with using them if you are a seasoned hunter/shooter, they are fully capable of bringing down medium sized game...

May 6, 2009, 07:51 PM
257 Roberts Ruger M77 77 Ultra Light Barrel Length: 20" Weight: 6 3/4 lbs + scope

May 6, 2009, 07:58 PM
My reaction?

The field is not the place to learn about shooting a real rifle!

If you have the rifles, I'd get him shooting a .223 with regular 55 grain bullets now. Then, have him move up to a .243 or 6mm or something. He'll learn that recoil isn't that big of a deal, and how to hold the rifle. Teach him to seat the rifle against his shoulder.

Use a good recoil pad, and DON'T shoot off the bench! Offhand shooting is MUCH more comfortable, no matter what the rifle is. I've shot guns that left me black and blue on the bench for sighting in, but offhand I could shoot them all day for fun.

Then, you could go back to the .25-06 (maybe a reduced load), a .260, or something.

The key is that, before he is out deer hunting, he should already be used to the rifle, not scared of it.:)

May 6, 2009, 08:59 PM
Took my boy out for the first time this year, about like your son(11yrs old not very big) very, very little time on the trigger. Bought him a youth Howa 1500 in a 243. Used a Winchester Power Point 80gr. He dropped a 260lb monster with no problem. Biggest deer I have ever seen anywhere much less here in Oklahoma.

May 6, 2009, 09:13 PM
Im going through the same thing my son is 12 and my dauter is 9 my son can handle the 30-30 fine so im working up som manage recoil for my doughter our range is shorter than yours 75yd is about max for us though. just read a artical about a 7x57 and the auther said that its his wifes faverate rifle.

May 6, 2009, 09:44 PM
A borrowed or used "regular" rifle with Managed Recoil ammo might work. My Marlin XL7 in \06 kicks plenty with full loads (at least for me lol), but is quite pleasant with the 125 grain Managed loads :)

May 6, 2009, 10:37 PM
Get that boy a Remington modle 7, in .243w.with open sights and then you can scope it of you want. Thats a rifle he will have for a lifetime.

Get him a .22lr he can just blow ammo through for fun, and get his judgment down on shootable things. Let him shoot bricks of ammo .....Having fun is very important to devolping a good trigger finger....sure beats a Drill Sargent.

When the time comes, the .243w wont even bother him. Make sure you have good hearing protection, flitching from pain and noise is a big factor, when your showing him "How and Why"

Good Luck , and have fun.:D

May 6, 2009, 11:06 PM
I don't know how many times I can say it. If you already have a 6mm Remington, you don't need a .243 Winchester. They directly compete with each other with the 6mm having a slight advantage in case capacity and velocity. For all intents and purposes they are almost identical. If the boy is having a problem with the 6mm, he is not going to do any better with a .243 Winchester.

Cpt. America
May 6, 2009, 11:40 PM

THE BARS-4-1 RIFLE is designed for medium-sized game and big upland bird hunting. The bolt action turns on locking. The design of the mounts allows to deliver fire over the iron sight without detaching the optical one. The iron sight is used for shooting at 100m and 300m range. The stock may be made of different kinds of wood (birch, walnut, beech). The rifle is available in the following modifications: Bars-4-1 chambered for the 5.6x39 cartridge, the Bars-4-1 chambered for the .223 Rem (5.56x45) cartridge and the Bars-4-1 chambered for the 7.62 x 39 cartridge.

May 6, 2009, 11:47 PM
Follow up: yes I do reload my own that is why I was wondering if a heavier grain bullet on a .223/22-250 cal would be enough to stop a deer. The Ruger m77 6mm (.243) is a great rifle and if anyone has some light loads to offer for that I could make it work. I like the suggestion of free standing shooting opposed to bench, I have never taken that into account. This summer he will get lots of trigger time with the 22/22mag so maybe that will be enough to ward off the hesitation! He will be 12 this hunt season.

Many thanks and i look forward to more replies.

May 7, 2009, 12:53 AM
243 Win. with 100gr core locks, a great deer rifle.

May 7, 2009, 01:45 AM
I started both of them out on .243 Rossi Single Shots after they shot rimfires for a couple years then 30-30 lever guns for practice building up. I put a slip on recoil pad on the lever gun. One son had a particular issue with the noise, not the recoil. So, they've grown a bit, and the youngest has moved up to a .270win in a Marlin XL7. That Marlin has an excellent recoil pad! He loves shooting it. It's a tack driver and has a great trigger. All for a good price.

I agree that there's not enough difference between a 6mm and a .243 in light rifles. I will say though, that a .270 seems to have a little less 'snap'. And light loaded for the learning stages, and game loaded for when the time counts, it'll still be much more versital than either.


May 7, 2009, 03:05 AM
I think that focusing on the rifle is a mistake. Focus instead on the shooter.

1. Make sure his hearing protection is adequate. A flinch can be due to the report as well as to the recoil.

2. His practice sessions should be pain free. If you need to put a slip-on recoil pad on the rifle or if you need to pad his shirt then do it. If he's wary of the rifle it's because it has hurt his shoulder or his ears. That needs to stop. At least until his concentration is such that he can ignore those things.

1911 guy
May 7, 2009, 04:34 AM
I'd stick with the 6mm.

Have him shoot a .22 LR for a while. Not just burning ammo, but working on usefull things like trigger management and proper form for offhand, sitting and kneeling. From the bench, just verify zero. Once that's done, forget the bench.

Double up on hearing protection, JohnKSa is absolutely right that a lot of flinches are the result of noise, not recoil.

After he's got the fundamentals down with the .22, start putting a few rounds downrange at the end of a session with the 6mm. No more than five or ten after a bit of .22 practice.

Let him snap in and dry fire the 6mm before and after he actually shoots it, incorporating the things learned with the .22. Make proper form, trigger managemant and follow through a habit before he touches off another rounds from the 6mm. Teach him to call his shots, that will focus his concentration on the shooting and eliminate some of the preoccupation with the flinch.

All this will lessen the effect of recoil and noise.

DO NOT rag on him about the flinch. Explain to him that everyone developes a flinch from time to time and there are methods to cure it.

May 7, 2009, 09:46 AM
Another thing to consider (mentioned earlier but worth repeating) is make sure the stock fits the boy. If necessary have the stock cut down, stocks are cheap, you can get a new one as he grows. Simply adding a recoil pad will exacerbate the problem (make the too long stock too too much longer) Insure the rifle fits the shooter. I’m a huge fan of the 22-250 for deer but would caution you that heavier bullets may not stabilize in the twist rate of your barrel. Since you reload consider loading down the 6 with lighter (non varmint) bullets.

All good advice provided, especially get off the bench and double up on hearing protection.
Good luck

May 7, 2009, 09:54 AM
Another thing to consider (mentioned earlier but worth repeating) is make sure the stock fits the boy. If necessary have the stock cut down, stocks are cheap, you can get a new one as he grows.

Oh yes.

Shotgunners tend to think about gun fit a lot, but many rifle shooters forget all about it. It's just as important with a bullet as it is with an ounce of pellets.

BTW Weatherby sells a Howa-action rifle that comes with two stocks, so a kid can learn on it and when he gets a growth spurt in a couple deer seasons, he can swap stocks in a couple of minutes. Personally, I find the Weatherby stock pattern to be excellent for avoiding recoil, since the comb recoils away from your cheek instead of towards it. Street price $500-550 around here, with both stocks.

May 7, 2009, 12:43 PM
the lighter the firearm, the more felt recoil. there is alot of reduced recoil rounds manufactured nowadays. since you reload, that 357 levergun will make a 180grain scream out that barrel. and when he gets old enough you can get a handgun to match:D

May 7, 2009, 04:52 PM
Well, I think the guys giving stock fit, get off the bench and hearing protection advice are right in the ballpark. I want to add to the poster who mentioned reduced loads, since the OP is a reloader. I've attached an older copy of the Hodgdon Youth Loads, I'd suggest giving them a call and asking about 6mm youth data if it's not on their website.

I started my boy out (after lots of .22lr) at 11 with a marlin 1894 44mag, but I loaded a nice easy 240g cast bullet with Unique load that was effective (1400 fps) but had essentially no bark or bite on the shooter. Working with the reduced load tripled his practice time versus full up loads and made a great half-step transition to stepping up to jacketed hunting loads.

Worked out pretty well, I still load that one up for new shooters or fun times at the range.

May 7, 2009, 06:56 PM
I'm of the opinion that if a kid can't handle a .243, he ain't ready to hunt deer. I started with a .257 Roberts, the .243 of its day. It was my grandpa's gun and he just borrowed my uncle's .30-06 Winchester M70. He didn't like the recoil, but he knew I couldn't handle it at 10 years old. By age 11, I'd taken a nice little 6 point.

May 7, 2009, 08:58 PM

I suggest a call to the ballisticians at Sierra. I had the exact same problem with my daughter when she was 10, with a Ruger youth model in .260 Remington and loads at the very bottom of the reloading manual.

They offered me up a recipe of 10gr. of Unique with thier 85 gr. bullet. This is actually a recipe they have for a .243, and we couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work in essentially the same case. I can't imagine them telling you any different with the 6mm.

The recoil is barely more than a .22, and my daughter became quite proficient with the rifle. At 15, she still practices with this load, but has always hunted with a full power load. I have never told her it is a different load-she may suspect it because of the different bullet, but she has never questioned me about it.

Good luck,

May 11, 2009, 10:43 PM
+1 on the Sierra 85gr Game King and reduced loads for practice, as well as hearing protection, recoil reduction, a stock that fits, and field position shooting.

+1 on a new rifle too. After all, its for the children :)

May 12, 2009, 01:43 AM
If someone hasn't mentioned the Ruger compact yet, it's something to consider. This isn't billed as a "youth gun", but it certainly could be one.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye Compact (

I would cut down the stock (if necessary) for a thicker recoil pad, like a Pachmyer Decelerator.

I've read that quite a few adults like this "shorty", even though they have full-size rifles as well. They report no problems with lack of eye relief. Apparently you just don't crawl the stock as much when its 1" shorter...

So, he might keep this one a long time, rather than outgrowing it. :)

Kentucky Windage
May 12, 2009, 01:52 AM
I completely agree with JohnKSa re. recoil pad and hearing protection. 6 mm shouldn't be too much recoil if those protections are in place. Sound advice. I would steer clear of 22 cal for deer completely.

May 12, 2009, 06:43 PM
I don't know how many times I can say it. If you already have a 6mm Remington, you don't need a .243 Winchester. They directly compete with each other with the 6mm having a slight advantage in case capacity and velocity. For all intents and purposes they are almost identical. If the boy is having a problem with the 6mm, he is not going to do any better with a .243 Winchester.

I would say reduced loads in the 6mm won't due either because bullets may not preform at lower velocities. I'd say he just needs to shoot more and become comfortable with it. I don't really like shooting centerfires as much as .22's too. It is more likely the blast over the recoil. Just get him out on the range. Also, he might not have wanted to pull the trigger on that deer last year because he was uncomfortable with it. I remember been younger and kind of struggling with killing a deer, let alone butchering it. Obiously I don't now, but it is intimidating to a young kid. Don't make him dress his first deer either. Make him part of it, but he doesn't have to be the one with the knife if he doesn't want to be.


May 12, 2009, 07:38 PM
.243 or .30-30 and start with some light loads and work your way up to the max load he can shoot comfortably

how old is he?

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 12, 2009, 07:44 PM
I'd run with a .357 mag, or .243 Win, or 7.62x39. Really, whichever one he can shoot best with.

If you do run with a .22 centerfire, the .223 is a better choice than the .22-250 due to the heavier bullets and faster twist rates to shoot them, which are available.

And as mentioned, the recoil pad and rifle weight are more important factors in controlling felt recoil than the caliber selection.

May 14, 2009, 12:05 PM
Trying different loads in the 6mm will help this problem. I switched 30-06 loads from max using 4064 to 2 grains under max with 4350. Interestingly everyone loved shooting this load and groups were cut in half. My 10 year old boy now shoots it and loves it. Deer die just as fast.

Another option to consider is 6.8 SPC. When my boy was 6 I had him try it out and he loved it and could shoot it well. Very little recoil and good to 250 yds.

May 21, 2009, 09:02 PM
I highly recommend a Limbsaver recoil pad. Works wonders, should tame the 6mm for your son.

May 22, 2009, 12:15 PM
Howa 1500 youth model is a good choice .

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